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January 2006 - 3Q's

The VolunTourist™ is a premium Newsletter for the Travel Trade. For those interested in discovering what is happening in the world of VolunTourism and seeking emerging practices, general information, and case studies, this is your Source.


JANUARY 2006 - Home


So You May Know
Wisdom & Insight
Supply Chain
Study & Research



Boomers & VolunTourism

Our “3-Q’s” for this month were answered by Matt Thornhill, Founder & President of "The Boomer Project." Here is what he had to say in answer to our questions:

1. VolunTourism combines elements of travel and voluntary service.  How do you see these two components resonating with Boomers?

Many Boomers over 50 are at the life stage where they can travel more. The kids are off in college and they are able to take more and longer vacations. They are at their peak earning years and have more disposable income than ever before. So travel is certainly on the agenda of millions of them.

They are also at a stage in life where they are starting to think about their legacy – how will they leave this world a better place? Their legacy need not be money, but can be any worthwhile contribution to society and the betterment of mankind. Leading Boomers, those born before 1955, came of age during the social upheavals of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. They understand and appreciate the power of a handful of determined folks who want to make a difference or change things. Those Boomers will apply that to this phase of life and will look for ways to give back, here and abroad.

VolunTourism taps into both of those trends and should prove hugely popular among Baby Boomers.

2. There have been a number of inquiries about how the Boomers will be remembered.  What aspects of VolunTourism may support this generation in developing parf of its legacy and/or historical identity?

Boomers are just now reaching the age when most people start to contemplate their legacy so it may be too early to predict how it will ultimately shake out. However, because there are so many more Boomers than the previous generations, any organization that relies on volunteers will be blessed with an abundance of resources – people and money -- thanks to the generosity of Boomers. That’s right, generosity of Boomers. They are not a self-centered, self-absorbed group after all. They already donate more time and money on a per capita basis to charities and volunteer organizations than previous generations did. And there are millions upon millions more of them.

One thing for sure about Boomers is that they will travel and volunteer on their own terms, in their own way. They won’t do it like their parents did. There’s a generation gap that still exists between them. However Mom and Dad did it, I’m going to do it differently, and better, say most Boomers.


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3. Self-discovery and inner awareness are prevalent concepts within the Boomer segment.  How can VolunTourism catalyze & support these processes?

In our research we see a transition taking place in Boomers sometime between the age of 45 and 55. That transition is a shift in life’s focus from “becoming someone” to “being someone.” After that shift, Boomers are less interested in doing things because of what it says to others, and more interested in doing things that are meaningful to themselves. Their drive is more inner-directed and their self-satisfaction is more important than any external motivations. VolunTourism fits that phase of life perfectly.

Matt Thornhill, Founder & President, The Boomer Project

After a 23-year career in advertising, Matt, 46, has quickly established himself as a leading national authority on Boomers. His opinions and insights are sought by reporters for national magazines like BusinessWeek and Money, newspapers like The Washington Post and Minneapolis Star-Tribune, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and NBC Nightly News.

His background on the agency side with Ogilvy & Mather and Ted Bates in New York, the Martin Agency in Richmond, and running his own interactive agency in Atlanta during the dot com boom, means that Matt understands both consumer behavior and trends.

Over the years Matt has worked on brands like Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, AT&T, Kraft General Foods, Colgate, Marriott, Seiko and others.

He is responsible for overseeing the work for clients by the Boomer Project, as well as editing the national research reports and the monthly newsletter.

Matt can be reached at 804.690.4837 or matt@boomerproject.com.

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A seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel—arts, culture, geography, and history—in that destination.

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